Daniel Deocampo, associate professor and chair of Geosciences at Georgia State University, will attend the White House Water Summit today (March 22) to share his plans for bringing new technologies and workforce development to the water economy of the southeastern United States.
The summit, held in conjunction with the United Nations World Water Day, brings together representatives from more than 200 universities, government agencies and nonprofits to discuss long-term strategies for sustainable water use. Water is not only a necessity but also a big industry in the Southeast, with 30,000 workers bringing 65 billions of gallons of water a day to the region's 60 million people.
Deocampo was invited because of his work as the science chair of H20TECH, a Georgia-State-affiliated nonprofit. H20TECH's mission is to move new technologies from the lab into daily use through university and industry partnerships that will create new jobs and economic growth.
As part of the White House Water Summit, H20TECH is announcing two new initiatives:
- Doubling the water innovation economy in the southeastern United States by 2020. Over the past decade, the federal government has given $2.5 million in grants to academics and startups working on water issues in the Southeast. H20TECH plans to work with local researchers, nonprofits, government agencies and technology start-ups to create new grant-worthy projects, with the goal of reaching $5 million a year in grants by 2020.
- Creating 5,000 new water jobs by 2020. Through technological innovation, commercialization and workforce development initiatives, H20TECH plans to expand the regional water economy jobs base from 30,000 to 35,000 jobs by 2020. The focus of this initiative is the strategy of indirect potable-water reuse, which means treating wastewater and re-introducing it into the water table through lakes, rivers and wetlands.
Water is already a hot political issue in the southeastern United States, Deocampo said, pointing to the ongoing dispute over water resources among the states of Georgia, Alabama and Tennessee.
Indirect water reuse, or releasing treated wastewater back into the environment, is already part of the solution, he said, pointing out that Gwinnett County is already treating and releasing 25-30 million gallons of water a day. As the population of the southeastern U.S. continues to grow, the region will need new technologies and an expanded workforce to keep up with the demand.
"We've identified that as a particular regional need," Deocampo said, adding that the process is extraordinarily safe and sanitary. "Water coming out of our regional treatment plants is incredibly safe and sanitary. It would be shame to waste it."
The White House Water Summit is designed to raise awareness of water issues and potential solutions in the United States, and to catalyze ideas and actions to help build a sustainable and secure water future through innovative water and technology.
The summit will be live-streamed on http://www.whitehouse.gov/live, and those who are interested are encouraged to participate using the hashtag #WHWaterSummit